Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How Bout Some Hearty Winter Soup?

The winters in Chicago are cold, snowy and long.  Cooking is one of my favorite activities, this time of year.  What’s not to like about it?  I get to enjoy some good food, and learn new things about the culinary arts, as there is not much else to do during these months.

I love making soup, which is the perfect cure for  a cold snowy day in the Midwest.  Today I created something new … Navy Bean Soup.  So, after doing some research, on the web, I came up with the below recipe, which is a hybrid of several recipes (from other people).

Navy Bean Soup

  • 1 (16 ounce) package dried navy beans
  • 6 cups Chicken stock
  • 4 cups water (or reserved Juice from Cooking of Shank Ham)
  • 1 ham bone
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 1 whole onion minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (About three carrots)
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery (About two stalks)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
  • Garlic powder or garlic salt to taste preference
  1. Place rinsed beans into a large stock pot. Add chicken stock, Ham bone and water — bring to a boil. Boil gently for 2 minutes; remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
  2. Add ham bone, cubed ham, onion, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are soft. Occasionally skim surface of soup while it is cooking.
  3. Add carrots and celery, cook until tender. Remove ham bone, scrape any meat from bone and place back into soup.
  4. Add ketchup and potato flakes to soup …For a little extra zest add some garlic powder or garlic salt and additional pepper to taste.
  5. Makes approximately 12-14 servings

A couple of caveats from this experience:

  • I cooked a 9 lb Ham Shank last night.  When the Ham was done cooking I reserved a couple of quarts of the juice from the baking pan.  I used it in place of the water called for in the recipe.   That was a good decision as it added additional flavor to the soup.
  • The instant potato flakes, in case you were wondering, thicken the soup texture slightly, besides adding flavor.
  • The garlic was a nice finishing touch, something I came up with.  You don’t need to use much, just a little and it makes a real nice addition to this soup.

The soup is delicious and will be good for several meals.  I may even freeze some.

If you enjoy soup, please give this recipe a try, and would love your feedback.   :)

Question — What do you enjoy cooking during the winter months… whats your favorite recipe?  Please share it with us.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Lutz December 30, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Mike, you know I love to cook! In the winter, my favorite is Chili. I make it a bit different every time.

Last time I made bean soup, I used a can of diced tomatoes, a couple tbs of Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbs of dijon mustard and a tbs of chili powder. It turned out pretty darn good too.

Here’s a recipe I made a couple years ago when the Giants were in the SouperBowl. (but I like New England Chowda better than Manhattan).

• 10 slices bacon
• 4 tablespoons of butter
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 2 cups of chopped leeks
• 2 cups of chopped celery
• 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
• Celery salt, seasoning salt, pepper, 3 bay leafs, 1 tablespoon thyme
• 12 potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 4 cups bottled clam juice
• 2 cups half-and-half
• 3 14oz cans of chicken stock
• 8 (6 ounce) cans minced clams
• salt and pepper to taste
• 2 cups heavy cream (optional)
• 5 dashes of hot sauce
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large saucepan over medium high heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserving the bacon fat in the pan, crumble and set aside.
2. In the same saucepan with the bacon fat add butter and saute the onion, celery, garlic, leeks and potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well to coat. Add seasonings.
3. Pour in the clam juice and chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
4. Add the half-and-half and minced clams and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, whisk in the heavy cream, if desired. Allow to heat through, about 5 minutes. Garnish with the parsley and crumbled bacon. (Note: Do not boil if adding cream.)

Serve with crumbled bacon, scallions, parsley and oyster crackers.

Happy Chefin!

Dave Lutz – @velchain


Michael M McCurry CMP December 31, 2009 at 3:50 am

@Dave Lutz,

Yum Dave, this chowda sounds wonderful!!!

I will try it out and let you know how it turns out!!!

Happy New year!



Sue Pelletier January 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Sunday night is soup night all winter long here at the casa de Pelletier. Tonight we’ll be making a fine Moosewood minestrone (from the tan Moosewood cookbook–forget its actual name). But one of my recent favorites is the Weight Watchers zero-point soup, which I have for lunch all the time.

6 cups broth/stock
Cooking spray
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic (more or less to taste)
1/2 cabbage, chopped
1/2 pound frozen green beans
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large zucchini, diced

Spray a big pot with Pam, saute the carrots, onion, and garlic until just right. Add all the remaining ingredients except the zucchini and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the veggies are done the way you like them. Add the zucchini and cook until tender.

If you like spice, toss in some salsa before serving–gives it a little zip. You can vary the ingredients, except for the cabbage. For some reason, that’s what makes it (and I’m not wild about cabbage).

Not the world’s most exciting soup, but you can’t beat 60 calories per cup.

Now I have a hankering for this not-so-good-for-New-Years-resolution cheddar and potato soup…


Michael M McCurry CMP January 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm

@Sue Pelletier,

Wow, that soup sounds way too healthy for me :)

Thanks Sue for posting that recipe… I am trying to eat healthier with the new year and that may be one way to do it… I will give it a try.

So what about the recipe for the cheddar and potato.. that is more up my alley :)

Thanks for contributing Sue!

Happy New Year!



Karen Verhey January 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Hi Mike!
I am a big fan of soup and stews this time of year and love cooking them, and enjoying a nice glass of red wine while doing so :) Here is the simplest chicken chili I know and it is delich. Easy to adapt and enhance to suit any taste.

Basic Recipe:
In a crock pot: 1 20 oz jar white northern beans; 4 chicken breasts; 1 jar salsa. Cook on low for about 8 hours. Remove chicken breasts and shred. Place back into pot and add 8oz monterey jack cheese and stir to combine all. Once the cheese has melted serve and enjoy!

Instead of 4 chicken breasts I use 1 whole chicken that has been cut into parts and remove the skin. The bones of the chicken add a lot of flavor and a higher chicken to bean ratio in the chili. I also like to add 2 cans of diced green chili’s. Adding tomatillo salsa instead of red salsa makes for a more “white” chicken chili and is also excellent.


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